CONOR McGREGOR has been warned another defeat to Dustin Poirier leaves his options limited to fighting only Nate Diaz or Jake Paul next.
McGregor was knocked out for the first time in the UFC by Poirier last January, with the American avenging his 2014 loss.
It sets up the 32-year-old pair with a blockbuster trilogy decider on Saturday when they headline UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
Dana White revealed a win for McGregor propels him back into lightweight title contention as No1 contender for the belt.
But consecutive disastrous defeats could make the prizefighting superstar question his next move.
In the eyes of Joe Duffy – who beat McGregor in 2010 – a trilogy bout with Diaz or lucrative boxing match with YouTuber Paul springs to mind.
Duffy, 33, told SunSport: "I think the avenue for Conor if he loses is the Nate fight or a big boxing fight, the Jake Pauls, stuff along those lines rather than a run back at the title.
"Obviously, with Conor it's not just the fight itself it's the whole build up which makes it exciting.
"The likes of Anderson Silva, and some of the other guys, even when they started losing they still had that aura and the fans tuned in to watch them.
"Obviously, he could go in and blast Dustin out and prove us all wrong, it wouldn't be the first time."
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McGregor suffered his first setback in the UFC to Diaz, who in 2016 scored a memorable upset after coming in as a late replacement.
The Irishman did level the scoring five months later in a five-round thriller which fans still celebrate as a classic.
But the trilogy has evaded fans ever since, meaning the demand will still be there even if McGregor is beaten twice on the spin.
The former two-weight champion will be hoping a win over Poirier again will kickstart another title run, having not held gold since 2016.
But Duffy, who retired in 2020, fears a loss will leave McGregor unmotivated to climb the ranks again, and instead look in Diaz's direction.
He explained: "I think the fight for him if he loses is Nate.
"I think that's the only fight for him unless he wants to work his way back up, but I don't know if he'd be interested in that.
"Honestly, I think that would be the best thing as he can get active again, that would be the way to go to re-spark him.
"But being honest, Nate is the only fight for him."
Before losing to Poirier at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, McGregor was all-but confirmed to face boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, 42, afterwards.
But following the stoppage, the mega-money return to the ring was shelved.
At the same time, social media star Paul, who is 3-0 as a boxer, claimed he had $50million waiting for McGregor.
Duffy thinks the pay-per-view numbers could make the unthinkable fight a no-brainer, and potentially the only option in the boxing ring.
He said: "With the likes of someone like Conor and Jake Paul or his brother Logan, they have so many guys following them.
"So many people would tune in. The numbers would be crazy pay-per-view-wise, they can't really lose in a sense
"I think if he loses to Dustin, big boxing match-ups also go out the window."
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